Closet Memoirs #1: Rubio and The Leopard Coat

People always said I should do this. Saying “You should really write a book about this someday.” or “You should really start writing this stuff down.” after every ridiculous story  exchange. I always smiled and nodded until one day… I actually did put pen to paper and start jotting down these random occurrences, encounters or moments of magic. Sometimes it’s crazy how easily we can forget the little bits of magic that surface from time to time, especially while living in a city like New York. Our geographic location alone just heightens and multiplies ALL bases for storytelling. Each time you step outside, you really never know what you’re in for. Exciting for most, stressful for some but the moments you experience here are unlike anything else.

Sometimes in the chaos of it all, I can’t help but think I am stuck inside of some hidden camera Rom-Com just waiting for everything to make the slightest bit of sense someday. But until then… the least we can do is take these moments and learn a thing or two from them. Reflect on them. Appreciate them. Grow from them as best as we can.

I recently had someone explain to me that they “appreciate” the fact that I see life this way. (Which was incredibly flattering.) That they really enjoy the view I have on the world and the chaos of New York. Seeing glitter in the grungy-ness and the humor in the insanity. I can’t help but laugh sometimes and can only hope that this perspective on the little things in life can allow you to read into the good things a little more and keep those thoughts and moments tucked away in a special part of your brain. It’s fun to look back on the “movie moments” that make up your story aka your LIFE.

Welcome to Closet Memoirs, the idea that has been dancing around in my mind for most of 2018. A collection of thoughts, experiences, photos and special tales of the stories behind the pieces we live our lives in.

To those who know me and have experienced this… a simple outfit compliment will usually turn into some elaborate 5-minute story about how the piece came to be mine. (Sorry and thank you to all who have been stuck in one of those conversations.) Anyway, the point being, these tangents only sparked due to the excitement I felt inside, so why not just take it and run with it? Fashion, clothing, thrifting, etc. is not necessarily something everyone thinks very far into. But if you know me, you know I think too far into just about everything. However, in this case… I guess it pays off!

This whole concept really sunk in on a cold day back in January. I was tiredly trudging back to my neighborhood after spending 6 hours in a car from back to back weekend work shoots. I decided to wander off my usual course for a breather and a stroll past my old apartment just 4 blocks north. Across from what used to be my old entryway stood a man and a rack full of clothes. This is not an unusual sight for New Yorkers, and I typically would walk by without thought.

I walked by mindlessly but then quickly shifted my little black boots into reverse as I saw a fuzzy leopard sleeve poking out from the rack. I had been on the hunt (no pun intended) for one of these for YEARS now. As I bee-lined for this coat, the man turned on his usual sales pitch. But the thing was… I didn’t need a pitch. I was already sold.

“How much?” I asked as he was somewhat humorously startled by my quick decision (a little eager, I know).

He laughed and told me “$25” which made me even MORE sold on the idea.

“I’ll take it.” Was the immediate response.

He proceeded with “Well, mi amour don’t you want to try it on?”

But I just knew it would fit. (Plus it was too cold to even swap jackets for a second). As we completed the exchange (which took all of 90 seconds) a conversation sprung up about the obvious: why I was here in this neighborhood, if I lived here, the usual. He introduced himself as Rubio and we shook hands. He had soft blue eyes and a warm sense of humor. (No this is not a love story, he was just a kind and approachable man.)

A conversation of coats quickly spun into one about the area and the gentrification of the Manhattan neighborhood I have called home for almost 2 years now. (Which is nothing compared to those who have spent their whole lives here.) It has been a hot topic here for quite some time and Rubio explained his perspective on all of it to me. By the end of this conversation, it wasn’t about the coat anymore. It wasn’t about the sale. It was an exchange of cultural upbringings, opinions, change and understanding. It was a peace offering between people of two different worlds who were now coexisting in New York City, appreciating each other in a rather uncommon moment.  Rubio explained to me that we are lucky to call this place home and really helped me view the situation with new understanding.

I walked away with a little more sparkle inside. Feeling good about the conversation, the momentary friend and of course… the brand new coat. Well, brand new to me anyway. This little leopard had been loved in another life before me. This label-less coat had a hole in the lining, a few missing buttons, a rip in the seam but it didn’t matter to me. Its flaws were a part of its story (same goes for humans btw). I knew that with a little TLC these things would not be a problem. This one of a kind vintage coat, worn by  God knows who… was now mine and its story was living on into another life and has already been the subject of several stories, photos, cold weather memories and most importantly; this first blog post. If you let them, these clothes can be a lot more than just something you put on your back. Dressing yourself is part of every single person’s daily routine. So why not make it a little more meaningful?

Thanks, Rubio.

 

*If you got through that novel and are still here (thank you)… WELCOME! This is just the beginning. Please, leave a comment, send me a note… let me know what you’d like to hear about next. Do you have a question, an idea,  topic, or piece you are curious to hear about? I’m all ears.*

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